Peru’s attorney general Patricia Benavides filed a constitutional complaint against President Pedro Castillo, whom she accuses of leading a criminal organization and having committed other crimes, including influence peddling and collusion.
“Today we present to Congress the constitutional complaint against President Pedro Castillo Terrones and the other registered members of the alleged criminal organization,” the attorney general announced on October 11.
Mr. Castillo is involved in six open investigations for allegedly leading a corruption network and other crimes, and has survived two impeachment attempts in just over a year in office.
“We have found very serious and revealing evidence of the existence of an alleged criminal organization entrenched in the Government with the purpose of taking over, controlling and directing the contracting processes in the State to obtain illicit profits,” added Ms. Benavides.
Fiscal de la Nación, Patricia Benavides: Hemos hallado indicios graves de la presunta existencia de una org. criminal enquistada en Palacio de Gobierno con la finalidad de copar, controlar y direccionar procesos de contrataciones para obtener ganancias ilícitas.(1/8) pic.twitter.com/7LFsMb34Ah
— Ministerio Público (@FiscaliaPeru) October 11, 2022
Mr. Castillo denied the allegations, described the constitutional lawsuit as a “coup” created by the attorney general’s office and promised to finish out his term in 2026.
“There is persecution. Here I am, if my blood has to run down the street for the benefit of this country, I have to do it, if I have to give my life, I’m going to do it,” he said in a press conference.
The constitutional complaint filed by Ms. Benavides is now in the hands of Congress. The document will have to go through several stages before a possible suspension of the presidential mandate can be voted on in a plenary session. Once the mandate is suspended, Mr. Castillo could be tried as an ordinary citizen for crimes he is accused of committing.
In this regard, the constitutionalist Aníbal Quiroga said on RPP Noticias that it is the first case in which the Public Ministry presents a constitutional complaint against an acting Peruvian president.
“Ms. Benavides has already fulfilled her role, it is up to Congress to define what the next step will be. This claim may or may not be accepted. Congress must decide whether to allow alleged crimes to continue or whether to defend the President and wait until 2026 for him to stand trial,” he said.
Days of arrests and raids
On the morning of October 11, prosecutors and police carried out proceedings related to the case throughout the country, including a raid on the house of the president’s sister Gloria Castillo. (Mr. Castillo’s sister-in-law, Yenifer Paredes, was arrested in August on charges related to the case).
The offices and homes of six congressmen who are known as “The Children” for their links with the Castillo’s government were also raided.
The police also arrested Mr. Castillo’s former advisers, such as Biberto Castillo, Auner Vásquez, Eder Vitón and Abel Cabrera.
The police also seek to capture Segundo Sánchez, the owner of a house located on Sarratea street, in the Breña’s district of Lima, which investigators allege was used by Mr. Castillo as an alternative office to the Presidential Palace to conduct his allegedly illegal activity.